Our Viking Ship Museum Voyage

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for ancient history. I typically seek out Greek and Roman sites, but when in Scandinavia, you have to embrace the majesty of the Vikings. And so we did.

On our second morning in Copenhagen, I walked a couple of miles and rented a car, a Volkswagen Touran, to scope out some of the city’s surroundings. It’s only a 90-minute drive to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, and I felt like we had to go. We’ve visited the Viking Museum in Oslo, where the best-preserved ships are located, but the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde has recreated Viking ships that you can ride on. That was too cool to pass up. 

You have to get to Roskilde early if you want to land space on that day’s ride. I am NOT an early bird, by any stretch, but I really didn’t want my lack of punctuality to ruin this opportunity. And so, we were there when the museum opened at 10AM to buy tickets for the 1PM voyage. Wow. That was a long time to wait, and I had a plan for how to use the interim stretch. 

Frederiksborg Castle

Not too far from Roskilde is Frederiksborg Castle (about 40 mins), one of the most beautiful, most massive castles we’ve ever seen. Despite the fact that a fire ravaged some parts of the building in 1859, much of the castle is exceedingly well preserved.

The chapel, which dates from 1606, is alone worth the drive. Furthermore, the castle houses the Danish Museum of National History, which includes a vast collection of paintings and furniture.

It wasn’t just cool for us: they’ve made a fun kids’ activity sheet that kept Josephine fully occupied. She searched high and low for the items she was instructed to find, which made her look deeply at the art, the furniture, the floors, etc.

The grounds of the castle were also spectacular, with labyrinthine hedges and remarkable flower gardens. People were taking boat rides in the moat around the castle — in fact, it was sort of like a ferry to get from the center of the nearby town to the castle grounds. It was incredible. It was also the perfect way to fill those hours between purchasing tickets and boarding a Viking ship.

The Viking Ship Ride

Okay, so we didn’t know what to expect at the Viking ship experience. After donning some safety gear, we trekked out with the herd of museumgoers who’d snagged boat tickets that day and made our way to a giant wooden craft. We sat on wooden planks in rowing formation, and we hefted enormously long oars into line with those in front of and behind us. As a team, we rowed the boat out into the bay. Quite a challenge, given the synchronicity required to make the boat move. If you’re off by a millisecond, it throws off the rhythm. I can imagine that the Vikings moved in lockstep with one another, like a machine.

We would have been thrown overboard.

As we got about 200 yards from shore, the crew unfurled the sail, which billowed and filled with air, and the boat rapidly gained speed. I could see how a well-trained crew of brawny Vikings managed to zip through the North Sea, and how they could have easily reached North America. These guys had boating technology down. Even our pathetic group managed to make the boat move. Josephine loved the ride. She may have loved looking down at the millions of jellyfish in the water beneath the oars more than she loved the ride itself, but who wouldn’t? 

Josephine was the smallest crew member of that day!


I read online that there was a deer park right outside Copenhagen, called Jaegersborg Dyrehaven. That basically means Deer Haven in Danish, which makes sense because this is a sanctuary for deer. There are THOUSANDS of them roaming the property. And Josephine was fascinated by the opportunity to see them. We made sure our drive back would pass by Dyrehaven, and we walked into the park to find a herd or two. The park had many activities, and I could see that people who plan for it could spend an entire day here. We were there towards the end of the day, though, so we only stayed for about an hour. But it was a nice injection of nature and wildlife into our day, and it was definitely worth a stop.

What a PERFECT day. The combination of the castle, museum, and forest was ideal. There was never a dull moment. AND we got to have lunch at the Viking Museum’s restaurant, where they serve Viking meals, like cured fish and dark bread on a big wooden board. That was super fun.

Moreover, we were back in the city by 5pm, with plenty of time to shower and get ready for dinner. A total must-recreate day for any family with kids traveling through Denmark.

Author: Jessica Givens